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  1. #1
    carpe damn diem billy007's Avatar
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    12.11.17 @ 05:11 AM
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    Default Economic slowdown stalls Bill Heard Chevrolet

    fromwww.orlandosentinel.com:

    Steven Cole Smith and Mark Chediak | Sentinel Staff Writers
    September 25, 2008

    SANFORD - Stung by rising gasoline prices and the struggling U.S. economy, the world's largest Chevrolet dealership network -- including Bill Heard Chevrolet of Sanford -- shut down suddenly Wednesday.

    The stores' fates are unclear. It's possible they will either reopen under new management or General Motors could choose to run them until new owners are found.

    About 2,700 employees will be affected by the closings at 13 dealerships nationwide, according to a brief statement from Georgia-based Bill Heard Enterprises. Its only other Florida store is in Plant City.

    The statement blamed the shutdown on a litany of woes, including "rising fuel prices, a product portfolio of mostly heavy trucks and sport utility vehicles, economic recession, unfavorable local market conditions for vehicle sales, the crisis in the banking and financing sectors, and other factors."

    These conditions "all combined to create a business environment in which the company simply did not have the resources needed to continue to operate," the statement said.

    Uncertain futures

    At the Sanford store Wednesday, Heard employees embraced in the dealer showroom, where most offices were empty by late afternoon.

    "It kind of came as a surprise," said an employee who asked not to be identified because the company had not given permission to speak to reporters. She said the Sanford dealer had struggled with "financial problems."

    Workers estimated that more than 200 people were employed at the dealership near State Road 46 and Interstate 4.

    At the dealers' service station, mechanics drank beers and pondered their uncertain future in the empty service bay. "We're drowning our sorrows," joked one. "We'll be lucky if we get our last paycheck."

    Based in Columbus, Ga., Bill Heard Enterprises, which began as a single dealership in 1919, ranks No. 13 on Automotive News' list of the top 125 U.S. dealership groups, with 2007 revenue of $2.13 billion. It is the world's top-selling Chevrolet dealer network.

    Besides his two Florida dealerships, Heard's network also includes stores in Nevada, Texas, Tennessee, Alabama and the company's home state of Georgia. Heard shut its Chevrolet dealership in Scottsdale, Ariz., earlier this month.

    Many individual dealerships have closed or changed hands this year, said Jessica Caldwell, manager of marketing analysis for the California-based Edmunds.com, an online automotive-information service, but the shutdown of an entire chain "is a major development in the industry."

    Bill Heard, like other Chevrolet dealerships, has been hit by multiple crises, including the general downturn in the economy, the perception that the brand has fewer gas-sipping models than some other brands, and the latest issue: obtaining financing not only for customers, but for the dealer's own stock, Caldwell said.

    "I think we'll see more closings," Caldwell said. "It doesn't appear we've hit the bottom yet."

    Susan Garontakos, GM's manager of dealer communications in Detroit, said Chevrolet has no ownership stake in the Heard operation. But GM does have the option, she said, of essentially running the dealership while a new owner is sought.

    Customer concerns

    Garontakos stressed that Bill Heard Chevrolet customers will be taken care of, if not by that dealership, then by nearby stores. But those who have ongoing business with Bill Heard must deal with the company, not with General Motors, Garontakos said.

    One of those customers, Rod Mack of Palm Coast, said late Wednesday that he was still trying to find out whether he could pick up a new Chevy Malibu that he bought Tuesday at the Sanford dealer.

    "They haven't told me anything," Mack, 46, said while waiting in front of the showroom.

    In November 2007, the state of Florida slapped Bill Heard Chevrolet with nearly 30 compliance orders and $400,000 in fees and other costs as part of settling an investigation into claims of deceptive trade practices.

    Bill Heard's Sanford and Plant City dealerships were targeted in the probe, which was prompted by a litany of consumer allegations accusing Heard of misleading sales, finance and advertising tactics, according to Attorney General Bill McCollum's office, which handled the case.


    I've leased my two Malibus from Bill Heard and I love 'em (the cars). Scary that a whole dealership chain is going under and one wonders just how bad things are going to get before we start to see things get better.

  2. #2
    Future's in the past....
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    11.03.17 @ 01:35 PM
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    Another Central Florida Car Dealership Closing Down Immediately


    http://www.wftv.com/news/17555175/detail.html

    LONGWOOD, Fla. -- A second major dealership in Central Florida has suddenly closed its doors, one day after another major dealership shut down.

    Employees at Courtesy Pontiac Buick GMC told Eyewitness News that they were called to a meeting at 9:00am Wednesday and informed the dealership would close, effective immediately. Employees were told that not enough cars are being sold to stay in business.

    Courtesy Pontiac Buick GMC is located on Highway 17-92 in Longwood and has about 70 employees. It is one of more than 20 Courtesy dealerships in Central Florida.

    At least one man who planned to buy a Pontiac G6 on Thursday got the call Wednesday night from the dealership to tell him he'd have to go somewhere else for his car.

    "It's the second dealership going under in the last two days. It's scary. You gotta wonder what's going on," customer Peter Butt told Eyewitness News.

    The parent company, Auto Nation, called the move a "strategic consolidation." A spokesman told Eyewitness News that Orlando has six other Buick GMC Pontiac dealerships and some of the employees will relocate to other Courtesy dealerships. Other employees have been told they will lose their jobs.

    Auto Nation says the company is sound, but in a slow market they need to consolidate.

    This comes one day after Bill Heard Chevrolet announced it's closing all of its delearships, including their Central Florida locations.
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  3. #3
    Atomic Punk
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    12.07.17 @ 12:54 PM
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    "Our economy has continued growing, consumers are spending, business are investing, exports continue increasing and American productivity remains strong. We can have confidence in the long-term foundation of our economy...I think the system basically is sound. I truly do."

    -- President Bush, July 15, 2008
    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.” -- Gen. George S. Patton

  4. #4
    On Fire Eddie's Littler Monster's Avatar
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    07.14.17 @ 10:27 AM
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    I live about 1 second from the one In Scottsdale, and It just up in closed overnight. All of the inventory is just sitting there - untouched since they closed. And that was about 3 weeks ago. Having been around the car business my whole life, It was probably more their legendary high pressure tactics and the thousands and thousands of cars they sold to illegals than it was solely the economic downturn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eddie's Littler Monster View Post
    I live about 1 second from the one In Scottsdale, and It just up in closed overnight. All of the inventory is just sitting there - untouched since they closed. And that was about 3 weeks ago. Having been around the car business my whole life, It was probably more their legendary high pressure tactics and the thousands and thousands of cars they sold to illegals than it was solely the economic downturn.
    Yea, it's pretty amazing. Your talking about that new one that just opened earlier this year right? It was on the news showing all these people who had just started packing their stuff. Showroom full of Vettes (very popular around here) just sitting there. I guess both of their dealerships in town are shut down now.

    I bought a pickup at Bill Luke a month ago, they said they're doing good to sell a truck a day, considering the type of dealership that they are, it's not very good. They were very excited I was there to buy a truck and practically gave it to me lol.

  6. #6
    Sinner's Swing! twonabomber's Avatar
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    does the dealership take care of the product mix or does GM? 'cause if the dealership bought/ordered 25 truckloads of Suburbans and Tahoes and can't get rid of 'em, is that really GM's or the economy's fault?
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    Quote Originally Posted by twonabomber View Post
    does the dealership take care of the product mix or does GM? 'cause if the dealership bought/ordered 25 truckloads of Suburbans and Tahoes and can't get rid of 'em, is that really GM's or the economy's fault?
    I would imagine it's some of both. They probably order hot sellers in the area and they probably get a certain "allocation" they have to deal with. I think they OK every vehicle they get, but they probably have to take a certain allocation of most product.

  8. #8
    Atomic Punk ZeoBandit's Avatar
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    12.07.17 @ 02:51 PM
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    Bill Heard is closing permanently, or it will not sell GM anymore. GM wants to reduce the overall number of dealers it has.
    "What we are dealing with here, is a complete lack of respect for the law" - Jackie Gleason, Smokey and the Bandit

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  9. #9
    Sinner's Swing! twonabomber's Avatar
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    i'm reading that the Heard dealerships used tactics that not many would call ethical:

    BILL HEARD:

    Here are a few reasons they went under:
    -911 operators averaged several calls a month from customers that were terrorized by dealer personnel, including locking customers in, keeping their car keys, signing "test drive agreements" that were really sales contracts.
    -The BBB has file cabinets dedicated to them as they have the most complains, without resolutions or offers of resolutions.
    -They never had the cars that they advertised with ridiculous low prices.
    -They falsified signatures on loan papers.
    -Low ball a contract letting the customer drive the car home only to call two/three days later to change terms due to "errors."
    -They had made up check stubs, 1099s, and W2s to get loans approved.
    -They would not pay off trades.
    -They would let you take the new car home and come back to repo it months later since they could not get loans on them and charge customers for miles.
    And the worse, they would get people to sign Sales Contracts only to have those people find out that they were only lease papers four years later and they would still owe thousands or owe thousands for mile overage.
    if any of this is true...i fail to see their closing as a loss.
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  10. #10
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    I can't speak for the other dealerships, but the one here in FL was in the news fairly consistantly for such practices, although I hadn't seen anything lately on them.
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  11. #11
    carpe damn diem billy007's Avatar
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    Fortunately, I don't think we were victimised by any of those things and we leased two vehicles from them. Still, it doesn't make me feel good to read crap like that. Guess now I have to start researching my car dealers before I go test drive cars - not that I ever trust them anyway, but it's just unreal seeing some of the things that they'll pull on you.

  12. #12
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    What kills me is my brother was looking for a vehicle earlier this year, and I said I would co-sign for him. I make pretty decent money for the area and my brothers job pays fairly well too. We both got letters of denial.

    Yet, I see people around here working minimum wage jobs driving around in brand new vehicles all of the time. Several of them I know have defaulted on auto loans before and yet, they're always in a new vehicle.
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